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Syracuse still looking for a defensive coordinator after Zach Arnett takes Mississippi State job

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Let’s hope for Zach Arnett’s sake that he was renting and didn’t end up buying in upstate New York.

A little less than two weeks after the former San Diego State defensive coordinator was hired at Syracuse in the same role, Arnett has changed his mind and accepted the same position at Mississippi State instead.

“I couldn’t pass up the chance to join an SEC program like Mississippi State,” Arnett said in a school release. “I am grateful to Coach Leach and [Director of Athletics] John Cohen for the opportunity to be a part of this first-class institution. Mississippi State has a history of great defenses. The staff Coach Leach has assembled is tremendous, and I can’t wait to get down there and get to work.”

Arnett is a longtime Rocky Long disciple dating back to their time at New Mexico when the former was a player. The latter eventually hired the former as a graduate assistant at San Diego State and promoted Arnett to linebackers coach in 2014 and eventually coordinator after Danny Gonzales left to become DC at Arizona State.

The Aztecs defense under Long and Arnett was annually one of the best in the Group of Five and the country overall for much of their time together. SDSU ranked third in scoring defense during the 2019 season and also forced 27 turnovers last year.

The hire comes after Mike Leach had previously discussed the Bulldogs job with Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry. He will stay in Annapolis for 2020 however as the Capital Gazette also reported on Wednesday that he signed a new contract to stay put with the Midshipmen.

While it probably isn’t too surprising to see Leach try to hire somebody familiar with the high seas, landing Arnett is still a quality choice for MSU. It should be fascinating to see what Mississippi State looks like this fall, from both the standpoint of their head coach in general and given the number of athletes on the roster running unique versions of both the Air Raid and 3-3-5 defense. We’ll have to find out just how good the Bulldogs will be but regardless the team should look a lot different from their SEC peers on the field going forward on both sides of the ball.

ACC announces full 2020 football schedule

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College hoops might be the focus for many along the eastern seaboard but planning can soon commence for the fall after the ACC released their full 2020 football schedule on Wednesday.

You can find the full composite ACC football schedule here or the team-by-team breakdown here.

“The accomplishments by our collective football programs over recent years has been remarkable and a compliment to our players, coaches and the leadership at our schools,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “As we look ahead, there’s no shortage of excitement and anticipation for what the 2020 season will bring. Once again, our fans will have an opportunity to watch all of our games across a variety of platforms, including ACC Network which continues to be successful in showcasing our schools and programs.”

On top of the usual ACC slate of divisional and crossover games, Notre Dame will once again be featured heavily on the schedules of league opponents as a result of the school’s annual agreement with the conference. All told there will be six matchups involving the Irish, including a neutral site game against Wake Forest at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (Sept. 26).  Notre Dame travels to both Pitt (Oct. 17) and Georgia Tech (Nov. 14) while Duke (Oct. 31), Clemson (Nov. 7) and Louisville (Nov. 21) will play in South Bend.

That game against the defending conference champ Tigers is particularly notable given the College Football Playoff implications it carries with Dabo Swinney’s group having a great shot at starting as the preseason No. 1 in 2020 and Brian Kelly likely fielding a top 15 (or higher) team.

Also interesting is the number of trips the ACC will make down to Atlanta for some big non-conference outings (which were obviously previously announced). Florida State will open the Mike Norvell era against West Virginia on Sept. 5 while Virginia plays SEC East champ Georgia on Labor Day. A week later, North Carolina plays Auburn as part of a very tough start to the season for Mack Brown and company with UCF and FCS powerhouse James Madison also on the docket.

We’ll see how it all sorts itself out come September but something says that for all the change that has gone on in the league, the end result of Clemson holding up the trophy probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Florida transfer Chris Bleich moves on to Syracuse

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This development involving a now-former Florida Gators football player flew under our radar last week, so we’ll rectify that with an early-morning post to start this work week.

Chris Bleich started eight of the first nine games at right guard for Florida this past season, with the lone start he missed being due to blisters on his foot. However, the redshirt freshman had begun to lose playing time due to performance even as he maintained the starting job in name.

With his grip on the position loosening, though, Bleich decided to take his leave of the Gators in early November.  Florida Gators football head coach Dan Mullen subsequently confirmed the departure.  Mullen also confirmed that unspecified family issues at home triggered the decision.

In the latest Bleich development, Syracuse announced late this past week that the lineman has been added to the Orange’s roster. In its release, the football program stated that “Bleich must sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer regulations unless granted immediate eligibility.”

It’s expected that Bleich will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this coming season.

Bleich was a three-star member of Florida’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania. The 6-6, 330-pound lineman played in just four games as a true freshman, and was able to preserve a year of eligibility by taking a redshirt that season.

If Bleich is granted a waiver, he’ll have three seasons to play three years.  If not, he’ll sit out 2020 and then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

DE who began his collegiate career at Coastal Carolina, signed with Syracuse before flipping to NC State is back in transfer portal

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The NC State football program is the latest to find out first-hand that Jeffrey Gunter may have an issue with commitment.

In January of 2019, Gunter opted to transfer from Coastal Carolina. Three weeks later, he tweeted he was transferring to Syracuse… before deleting the tweet. Two days later, however, Syracuse confirmed the defensive end’s addition to the roster. Feb. 26, though, Gunter reneged on that commitment, tweeting he would no longer be transferring to Syracuse and would instead move on to NC State.

That commitment stuck… for all of 11 months, as it turned out, as 247Sports.com is now reporting that Gunter is listed in the NCAA transfer database

During his one season with the NC State football program, Gunter was the Co-Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. He had to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

After totaling 14 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2018, Gunter, a two-star 2017 signee, was named first-team All-Sun Belt Conference.

It’s worth to note that, in Gunter’s winter of decommitment last year, he had also considered moving to either North Carolina or Oregon. Whether those two schools will be in play this time around is unclear.

Jim Brown named by ESPN as the greatest player in college football history

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Jim Brown, greatest college football player ever?

College football is rapidly nearing the end of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the sport, with the 2020 College Football Playoff championship game serving as the capper of its sesquicentennial season.  So, why not kick off the next 150 years of the sport by doing what we as fans do best — argue about lists.

During halftime of the Clemson-LSU title game — the SEC Tigers came storming back in the second quarter, by the way — ESPN unveiled their Top 150 college football players of all-time in celebration.  The entire list can be viewed HERE.

Also during halftime, the Top 11 players on the Worldwide Leader’s list were feted on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium field.  Coming in at No. 1?  Jim Brown, according to ESPN, is the greatest college football player in the first 150 years of the sport.

The Top 11 are as follows:

  1. Jim Brown (RB, Syracuse, 1954-56)
  2. Herschel Walker (RB, Georgia, 1980-82)
  3. Bo Jackson (RB, Auburn, 1982-85)
  4. Archie Griffin (RB, Ohio State, 1972-75)
  5. Jim Thorpe (RB, Carlisle, 1907-12)
  6. Red Grange (RB, Illinois, 1923-25)
  7. Earl Campbell (RB, Texas, 1974-77)
  8. Dick Butkus (LB, Illinois, 1962-64)
  9. Barry Sanders (RB, Oklahoma State, 1986-88)
  10. Gale Sayers (RB, Kansas, 1962-64)
  11. Roger Staubach (QB, Navy, 1962-64)

I have but two comments on that top-tier group.  One, Barry Sanders is laughably, criminally low.  Two, Herschel Walker was the only college football player in my lifetime who was better than Sanders.

Seriously, Sanders being ninth offends me.

Other than that, fire away…